Dover Business Owners Sound Off During Downtown Tour - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Business Owners Sound Off During Downtown Tour

Posted: 09/25/2017 19:37:00 -04:00 Updated:
Erin Thwaite, owner of Bel's Boutique in Downtown Dover, talks with City Councilman David Anderson about running a store in Downtown Dover. Erin Thwaite, owner of Bel's Boutique in Downtown Dover, talks with City Councilman David Anderson about running a store in Downtown Dover.

DOVER, Del. --- Dover business owners on Monday gave their thoughts on conditions in the downtown area during a tour by city officials and members of the Downtown Dover Partnership.

The Monday morning tour was aimed at getting feedback from local business owners and operators about the positives and negatives of having stores along places like Loockerman Street in the heart of Central Dover.

Erin Thwaites, the owner and operator of Bel's Boutique on Loockerman Street said business in Downtown Dover has improved over the last nine years---so much so that she opened a second location called "The Loocke." She recommended to city officials that Dover itself should try to get move involved in trying to fill vacant storefronts that dot some parts of the street.

"I'm hoping we can get some of the buildings up to par so we can get good viable businesses in there."

Other business owners like Sam Chick, who recently opened a smoke and vape shop called "Puffster," voiced his unhappiness to city officials about what he deemed "stupid" and "arcane" regulations, saying he's been told the electronic light above his store can't be lit without proper approvals.

Although Loockerman was filled with people on Saturday for the OktDoverFest event, Chick said some customers weren't even sure his store was open because the electronic sign wasn't on. 

"We had tents set up here so anyone who was walking down the street couldn't see my "open" sign. The only thing they could see was the sign up top," he said.

Joan Cote, who heads the Downtown Dover Partnership, said the Monday's event was part of an effort to establish better rapport between the city, partnership, and business owners. 

Cote said the partnership, which receives more than $150,000 in public funding from the city, is looking at ways to address concerns from business owners over issues like confusion by customers over where to park. A study recently looked at parking in Downtown Dover and pointed to issues with multi-use lots that offer metered, permitted, and reserved parking.

"It's very confusing. Even if you're down here every day it's confusing. How do we better explain that?" she said.

An additional issue frequently raised by business owners, Cote said, is people loitering in front of vacant storefronts. She said the partnership is trying to reverse a negative perception of Downtown Dover that isn't true.

Surveys were distributed to business owners along the tour, asking for feedback from business owners in Downtown Dover.

 

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